I am persuaded that this is exactly how the 'rules' function in the church. However, I am a little suspicious all the same. Following this line of thought, it could be a little too easy to dismiss the 'rules' and start again. That is, it would be possible for someone to say that they understand the kind of community we are independent of the existing 'rules'. Under the pretext of changing contexts, they could then rewrite the 'rules' to suit their particular understanding of the Christian community. We should remember, however, that the 'rules' are an expression of the community, so therefore a good way of understanding what it means to be Christian community is to start with the 'rules' and follow them back to the kind of community that produced them in the first place. I think there is a great deal to be said for the latter methodology in becoming Christian, despite my utter abhorrence of legalism.
However, I still think the 'rules' are an expression of the community, and therefore, once members have lived in that community from the inside, and followed the rules backwards (so to speak) to that community, it is possible for the 'rules' to be modified by the community.
The good life is not simply one in which certain rules are kept - this is always at best a shorthand for the results of life together in the Body. The good life is one in which we have learned how to be for each other, and in so being to live fully as ourselves. If lying, killing, adultery, greed and so on are sinful, it is because we couldn't imagine a community , such as the Body of Christ is meant to be, in which things like this went unchallenged. (Rowan Williams, Tokens of Trust, p. 110)
[Pentecost 21(A), Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20]